Preparing For Your Wedding – Important Information
Thank you for calling to arrange a wedding between ____________ _____________ and ____________ _____________. This sacrament has been scheduled for _________________________, _________________________ at ____________________ a.m./p.m.
As you may be aware, certain criteria must be in order before the sacrament of marriage can take place. The following material is taken from the official Registry information according to our holy Archdiocese.
For the sacramental union of a man and a woman to be proper in the eyes of the Church, the marriage must be conducted in the Orthodox Church. For such an ecclesiastical marriage to be valid, the following must be adhered to:
1. No impediment to marriage may exist.
2. A civil marriage license must be obtained from civil authorities.
3. An ecclesiastical marriage license must be obtained from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese or Diocese (Metropolis) (this should be done at least six weeks before wedding).
4. The sacrament of marriage must be celebrated by an Orthodox priest according to the liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church.
5. The priest must belong to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. However, marriage performed in another Orthodox jurisdiction in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is also recognized as valid by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
6. The priest must receive authorization for the marriage from his diocesan bishop or metropolitan.
7. Before requesting permission from the bishop for the marriage the priest must verify: a) that the parties in question are not already married either in this country or elsewhere; b) that the party or parties who are members of another parish obtain a certificate of membership from the parish to which they belong; c) that if either or both parties are widowed, that he or she present the death certificate of the deceased spouse; d) that if either or both of the parties have been divorced and/or remarried, whether or not the remarriage was recognized by the Church, that they present the appropriate certificates.
8. No more than a total of three marriages will be allowed by the Church.
9. When one or both of the parties are divorced (after having been married in the Orthodox Church), they must obtain an ecclesiastical divorce as well in order to marry again in the Church.
10. In the case of a mixed marriage, the non-Orthodox partner must be a Christian who has been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. A marriage cannot take place in the Orthodox Church between an Orthodox Christian and a non-Christian.
11. In the case of mixed marriages between an Orthodox Christian and a non-Orthodox Christian, the marriage must be celebrated by an Orthodox priest in the Orthodox Church according to the Orthodox tradition.
12. The Sponsor (koumbaros or koumbara) must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. A person who does not belong to a parish, or who belongs to a parish which is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, or who if married, is not married in the Orthodox Church cannot be a Sponsor. Non-Orthodox persons may be members of the rest of the wedding party.
It is a fact that the more things a couple holds in common, the more likely it will be that they live their married lives in peace and harmony. Shared faith and traditions spare newlyweds and their children many serious problems and strengthen the bonds between them. However, the Orthodox Church blesses mixed marriages under the following conditions:
1. The non-Orthodox partner must be a Christian who has been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity.
2. The couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church and nurture them in accordance with the Orthodox faith.
The Orthodox partner should bear in mind that a married Orthodox Christian whose wedding has not been blessed by the Orthodox Church is no longer in good standing with the Church and consequently does not have the right to receive the sacraments of the Church, including Holy Communion, or to become a sponsor at an Orthodox wedding, baptism or chrismation. An Orthodox Christian who has been married outside the Church and who wishes to be reconciled to the Church is encouraged to request from his or her local Orthodox priest that his or her marriage be blessed in the Orthodox Church.
A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not automatically become a member of the Church, and is therefore not permitted to receive Holy Communion or other sacraments of the Church or a Church funeral. These are privileges of the baptized or chrismated members of the Church.
Certain cases exist whereby marriages are prohibited. They include:
FIRST GROUP: Parents with their own children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
SECOND GROUP: Brothers-in-law with sisters-in-law.
THIRD GROUP: Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews.
FOURTH GROUP: First cousins with each other.
FIFTH GROUP: Foster parents with foster children or foster children with the children of foster parents.
SIXTH GROUP: Godparents with godchildren or godparents with the parents of godchildren.
In addition to the above registry guidelines, the following items should be taken into account:
A. Any fees that may apply for the use of the facilities must be paid before the stated wedding date (see note below – “Members in Good Standing”).
B. The articles necessary for the sacrament itself must be present the day of the wedding. These include:
– Wedding rings
– Stefana (Crowns)
– Decorated wedding candles
– Wine chalice
– Koufeta (Jordan almonds – traditional)
– Tray (traditional)
C. Time for pre-marriage counseling with the priest should be arranged in order to insure a solid foundation for the new couple’s life together. You should plan on five sessions in order to properly cover the material presented. Any exceptions to this schedule must be previously arranged with the priest.
ELIGIBILITY OF SPONSORS (the “best man” in western tradition, but may be male or female in the Orthodox tradition)
If the Sponsor is not a current member of the local parish, then he or she should ask their parish priest to provide a letter indicating that they are a member in good standing in their home community. He should also provide their parish membership or pledge envelope number in the letter, and then mail it directly to this church in care of the parish priest. This letter must be received at the parish prior to the date of the sacrament.
According to the official Registry information of the Archdiocese, a person who wishes to be a sponsor for the sacrament of marriage in the Church must be an Eastern Orthodox Christian who is a member of an Eastern Orthodox parish and who is in good standing with the Eastern Orthodox Church. A person who has been excommunicated or anathematized by the Church or who, if married, has married outside the Eastern Orthodox Church may not be sponsor. Also, members of the Church who are divorced might not be permitted to be sponsors in the wedding ceremony. Please check with me if you have any questions or concerns in this regard.
MEMBERS IN GOOD STANDING
The Church does not charge for sacraments. This is contrary to the teachings of the Orthodox faith. However, it does cost money to open the facility for any purpose. For this reason, the Parish Council has approved guidelines for the use of the Church as follows: for members in good standing who are up-to-date with their stewardship pledge, no usage fee is charged. If you wish to make use of our Social Hall for your reception, you must schedule it if you haven’t already done so. Please contact the church office first to check the date. Then make arrangements with the caterer if the date is available.
Although exceptions do exist, married couples and those who are single and living outside their parent’s home must make their own fair share pledge to be considered members in good standing.
May the blessings of the Lord be with you as you prepare for this great day.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR “AFFIDAVIT FOR LICENSE TO MARRY”
NOTE: This should be done at least six weeks before intended sacrament.
– Full name of Groom and Bride (both in Greek and English if appropriate)
– Place of residence (full address on each)
– Place of birth & date of baptism (have a copy of baptismal certificate if possible).
– Baptized religion and/or date of chrismation if a convert
– Father’s name, country of birth, and religion
– Mother’s name, country of birth, and religion
– “Have you ever been married (in any church or civilly)?” If yes, then supplemental information will be necessary.
– “Are you related to the intended bride/groom” by blood, or by marriage, etc? If yes, then supplemental information will be necessary.
REGARDING SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION
Supplemental information may include: previous marriage licenses (ecclesiastical or civil), divorce decrees, baptismal certificate, etc. Any questions on these items should be brought to the priest’s attention before you come to fill out the “Affidavit for License to Marry”.